A client in his late forties came to see me because he was having marital difficulties. On the surface it appeared that his wife is a demanding person who rarely appreciated him. His chief complaint was that she didn’t want to have consistent sex with him and that she wanted him to make more money. As we got to the heart of the matter over time, he began to share how truly unsafe he felt in their marriage. In his perception, reaching out to her and expressing himself invited criticism in return. He often felt punished and attacked. Instead of communicating, he gradually began to ignore her and avoid intimacy. Does this sound familiar?
Being a huge believer in open, honest, and straight forward communication, I asked him to gradually express more and more of his truth no matter what. In fact, I encouraged him to do so at work as well. From my perspective, work and personal are a continuum. Thus, when we learn to better express ourselves at home, it positively affects our relationships at work and vice versa. Though a part of him wanted to take my coaching, a part of him resisted. “I’m not ready to tell the truth,” he said at one point. He feared being attacked and making his situation worse. He also feared that his wife would cut him off sexually.